Back to inspiration overview

6 can’t live-without-trends from the amazing SXSW festival 2019

If you have ever been to South By South West (SXSW) in Texas, you know the vibe. Imagine indulging yourself in a ‘congrestival’ on marketing, branding, tech, media, innovation and creativity; but having the key trends now within just five minutes of reading. Also, we have included two inspirational stories. Buckle up!

1. Think of purpose beyond the marketing check-box

Brands have discovered that having a purpose is good for their marketing and has positive effects on both customers, employees and partners. Research shows that a ‘strong, well-communicated purpose’ can contribute up to 17% improvement in financial performance (Burson-Marsteller and IMD Business School, 2015). With this, the temptation of quickly turning long-term vision into a short-term profit has led to purpose often being used as a superficial marketing tool. But just putting your purpose on your website will not do the trick. Customers expect organizations to walk the talk and show tangible proof points to support their purpose. If you want to become a credible and authentic brand in the eyes of customers, act like a glass box, in which every person, process and created (dis)value is made visible and accessible. Purpose isn’t just the job of brand managers, public affairs or the CEO. Everybody in the organization needs to live it.

2. Empathy is the key game changer in sustainable relationships

Customers are confronted with 35,000 choices a day, cross about 3,500 brand messages and are likely to read fake news with an increase of 17,000%. By realizing this, it’s no surprise that customers are having more and more difficulty to truly commit to brands and become brand ambassadors. All brands are battling to enter customer’s lives and make a lasting impression. So what’s the secret? Well, as customers are not only driven by rational considerations but moreover by intuition and emotion, they intend to connect with brands that show empathy. Instead of pushing products, brands should be ultimately obsessed with the needs, challenges and dreams of their customers to know how they can serve them. Love the customer’s problem, not your solution! Only when being truly in love with your customer you can create a deeper, emotional connection and build a lasting relationship.

3. The most important metric is how you make people feel

Big data has never been a more trending topic. With the infinite opportunities of connecting data points, the global Big Nine (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) know more of us as customers than we do ourselves. Organizations use these companies to track where their customers are and what they do. However, the one measurement often lacking is how customers actually feel about your brand or organization. While this might be the most important metric of all! There are already technologies that will soon enable us to gain emotional customer insights, using e.g. your ear vibration or your heart beat to calculate emotional response. Meanwhile, it is key to think about how your organization currently creates customer experiences that create positive feelings and true customer fandom. One of the methods is story making (rather than storytelling): creating inspiring stories together with consumers who share the organizations values (even without ever mentioning the product or organization).

4. Stop reading trend reports, start looking around

When we are looking for trends, we often aim to understand where we will be in three years time. Bozoma Saint John, marketing director of Endeavor and formally Uber, Apple and Pepsi, claims that if you really want to understand trends, it is better to watch to the present. Why? We tend to forget to just sit down and watch what is currently happening. Watch what people are wearing, what they are reading, what they are watching and what emotions they have. Even more important is to become part of culture. Go to the events of people you market to. Make sure to find and talk to people that you don’t agree with and who are not the same as you. For a marketeer it is more important to feel the trends than only to look to the world like a flat place, build by data.

5. AI is not a trend but the way forward

Artificial Intelligence is bringing a unique way for organizations to speed up. Trend watchers claim it to be the most important tech development in our lifetime. However, it is actually not a tech trend anymore; it can be seen as the 3rd computer era. And it connects to everything we do in daily life and business. Think for example of content collection or validation for news media.

A growing concern on AI is who makes sure the right decisions are taken. As an example, Google’s Chief Decision Scientist warns for making sure that AI systems are programmed by the right people who know how to take the right decisions. The profession of ‘AI teacher’ might be one of the most important jobs of the future. Decisions at scale need skilled leaders. At the moment there is no clear responsibility (yet) and worldwide decision structure for those decisions.

6. It takes time to build business models for new technologies

Even though certain technologies have high promises, the market needs time in finding the right business models. It has been five years since AR and VR has been introduced as significant trends. This year, SXSW struggled to show the really successful business models behind it. This shows that it takes time to find the right applications. VR looks to have found its natural space in education and gaming. Although AR has a massive potential reach, it still hasn’t reached further than marketing campaigns. The same struggle can be seen for the very promising voice technologies. In order to reach real success marketers should allocate enough time to find the right business models as the market screams for successful content and distribution possibilities and examples.

Being part of an entrepreneurial and vision-driven group of companies, we like to translate the newest developments and trends into shareable insights. Want to know more about above mentioned trends and how to cope as an organization? Check out

Related articles